Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Albert Einstein, in an address to the faculty of the California Institute of Technology said,
Gentlemen, the deeper I dwell into the sciences of this universe, the more firmly do I believe that one God, or force, or influence has organized all of it for our discovery.

Or, in other words...

Monday, August 30, 2010

In One Year

The Legos and I... we have an interesting relationship.

I just realized that it was about a year ago that I was posting about my bright idea.  After too much bickering and too much mess, we had been having a Lego Fast, and then decided on a Lego Re-building Fest.  Yes, we would rebuild every Lego kit we have, restoring all pieces to their proper owners.

Yes, the boys were excited.  At first.

To say that their enthusiasm quickly waned is a wee bit of an understatement.  Does the phrase pushing a rope uphill give you much of an idea?  Well, I have to credit Tate.  My hard-working, meticulous, industrious boy.  He actually, over the course of the year, rebuilt most of his kits and some of his brothers'.  The other boys had much less patience.  It wasn't the actual building of the kits, it was finding all the individual (and often tiny) pieces.  Oh, agony!

Gunnar collapsed in frustration.  And Wyatt just plain quit, announcing that he was too old for Legos, and Tate and Gunnar could play with his.

Shock!  And despair.

In fact, Gunnar said to me, quite sadly, "I wish Wyatt wasn't growing up so fast.  Playing Legos is NOT a two-brother game.  It needs three."

And I think we all realized that it's really a lot more fun to just do your own thing with the pieces.

Fine.  Mix 'em up.  I don't care.  Someday when you grow up and you want your own kits, then you'll be motivated to pick through the thousands and thousands of bricks and sort it out.

And there was much rejoicing.  And much playing.  Even by Wyatt.

But the downside is, the family room... well, let's take a look.

I peek in the door (love those cute little toes!)

Can I get to the closet doors on the left?

Could I get to the bathroom?  Heavily guarded by Star Wars guys?

If I want books, from the bookshelf?  If I dodge the swooping, shooting, space craft?

Are we using the handy-dandy toy sorter, to maintain any kind of order?

So as I gritted my teeth pondered the chaos they had so quickly created, I happened on Deborah's post of a few days ago.  Go read it.  I'll wait. 

Thank you, my friend, for a better perspective!  But I confess, the sight of that room is still having an effect on me like flashing lights apparently do to some epileptics.

Lord have mercy.

At least they're playing together.

* Sigh *

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig... In Which I Ramble On and On

Yes, we're back from vacation.  And it was wonderful.  Glorious, in fact.

We actually sat on the beach at the Oregon coast in shorts and tank-tops, which is hardly ever possible due to temperature and wind. 

Mind, you don't swim at the Oregon coast, as the water - sweeping down from the Arctic (or at least Alaska) - doesn't vary much from 55F (about 12 or 13C for some of you) be it winter or summer - and is much more likely to produce hypothermia than anything like a good time.

But we had a good time.  A great time.  A relaxing time.

Playing in the sand, reading, flying kites, playing games, watching movies, picking agates (not many this time),  and just hanging out together.

Unfortunately, we were short a couple of family members.  Kerry had work to do (and there was much rejoicing) and my brother had a job interview (and a second interview tomorrow - praying for good results!)  We missed them, but they'll get another chance in November.

Arrived home to find chaos in the yard.  Apparently a neighbor had hired a backhoe and not used all his allotted hours, so Kerry got some of his time at a bargain - pulled two stumps, picked a huge rock out of the lawn, dug out the jury-rigged steps into his garage office preparatory to pouring concrete steps (which we Do Not Have Money to do just now...), and began a trench for his future rockery.  Very ambitious.

However... the stumps were in my flower beds and disturbed a number of plants when they came out, the rock left a gaping hole in the front yard, his office is now only accessible by jumping up a series of stacked concrete tiles, and the turf and rocky dirt from that and the rockery site are piled on and beside the driveway, thank-you-very-much.

So the boys and I spent much of Saturday screening wheel-barrow after wheel-barrow-load of dirt (removing rocks) to refill the holes in the flower bed, rescuing plants pulled out with the stumps, screening yet more dirt to fill holes left in the lawn by the backhoe, and carrying rocks to a pile that is NOT on the driveway.

And what is it about all the rocks anyway?!  Our first house, across town, had lovely, lovely soil.  Dark and rich.  And neighbors with horses (ie compost).  Things grew wonderfully.

Not so much, here.  The soil is hard and gets crusty on top.  Not much organic matter.  But lots of clay.  And rocks.  What is it with the rocks?!  Well, I suppose it's glacial till.  And bigger glacial erratics.  We've pulled rocks out of our yard nearly as big as a washing machine.  And the "little" ones (from ping pong ball to football size) just gradually bubble to the surface.  How do they do that?  And why???!  (Other than for my torment to produce patience.)

After spending several hours moving dirt and rocks around we heard from some friends whose little boys are inheriting our play equipment.  They came over to pick it up.  That Little Tikes stuff just never quits.  And - hallelujah - they took the swing set, too :D  So the whole yard is much changed.

All in all, I really needed a real day of rest today!  As I missed church last Sunday (and Kerry - who was there - didn't exactly register the details) we were caught unprepared for a potluck lunch after the service today.  Thankfully, as I think I may have mentioned, our chapel takes their potlucks very seriously, and one family (or several) showing up without food was no catastrophe.  There were even leftovers, which relieved any nagging guilt.

And, for my last little tidbit of useless information, we stopped at Big 5 (sporting goods) because Wyatt and Tate both could have used new soccer shoes last spring, and didn't get them, and really needed them for this season.  And as they tried them on, and I took a closer look at Wyatt's other shoes and remembered he had been mentioning they pinched a bit, I had a really stellar mom moment.


Had him try on a pair of regular (play) shoes and he had gone up two and a half sizes.  Really.  I bet they were pinching a little!  He brought up foot-binding and gave me stink-eye, and walked out with three of the six pairs of shoes we bought today.  (Kerry's new running shoes, Wyatt and Tate's soccer cleats, Wyatt's nice shoes and play shoes, and Gunnar's play shoes - he also went up a size and a half.)  But, we scoured the sale racks, found just what we wanted, and got them all for $120, so I was pleasantly surprised.  I don't know if homeschooling or my incompetence at anything fashion-related has much to do with it, but thank heavens, the boys couldn't care less for name brands.

And that is that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pencil or Pen?

I like pens.  Especially blue pens. They write a crisp, clean line, all blue and cheery.

Pencils are gray and smudgy.  The tips get dull quickly.  They don't look as nice,

I want to write my life in ink.

But I can't.  Everything changes.

Monday, August 23, 2010


We have to end adolescence as a social experiment.  We tried it.   It failed.  It's time to move on...

Children rapidly assuming the roles and responsibilities of adults would yield enormous benefits to society.
Newt Gingrich in Business Week

Interesting thought.  I don't suppose he's meaning to deprive children of actual childhood, but to eliminate the rapidly growing class of adultescents.

Reading an interesting book, Age of Opportunity, by Paul David Tripp.

Friday, August 20, 2010

If Our Family Had A Motto...

A Little Busy

Not much posting going on lately.  Feeling a bit like the proverbial headless chicken, but - I hope - slightly more purposeful.

There's good news, and bad news.

Good news - Kerry has some work!

Bad news - it's a bit of an adjustment, getting back to work, after what seems like a 6-month vacation.  Not that we're complaining.

Good news - family vacation to Oregon next week!

Bad news - Kerry will be home, working.

Good news - Kerry has some work!

Does that make sense?  Trying to look on the bright side.  We've planned a camping trip next month with some friends from church and Kerry felt (and I agree) that with this new project, it wasn't reasonable for him to be gone for two weeks.  So he'll miss Oregon, but come camping.

So this week we've been having a "school week" (very part time), doing our pre-packing shopping and organizing, and having a birthday party.

Someone in this house just turned forty-seven.  Forty-seven!  Doesn't that sound close to fifty?  A half-century?!?!

We had a small-ish birthday dinner, here at the house, with Kerry's brother and sister-in-law, cousin and cousin-in-law (?), some of my family,  and his most favorite Fiesta Cake.  And - once again - I failed to get a photo of the cake.  Which is probably just as well, because Fiesta Cake doesn't look nearly as appetizing as it really, truly is.

In fact, the only photos of the party were taken by one of the boys and I haven't seen any of them yet.  They are probably about as wonderful as the photos from Father's Day, so I'll have to see if there are any I can post.

In the mean time... he's usually behind the camera, but here's one from the Sauk Mountain hike.

Of course, not only was I busily making food for the party (including TWO cakes, because the first angel food cake came out of the oven, fell out of the pan when I inverted it to cool, and was one inch tall and gummy... why?) but I was a wee bit distracted because my mom was having a little medical adventure which involved a trip to the ER and a bunch of testing.  She's home and fine, but I was - yes - a bit distracted!

And the best part of the party?  The adults visiting around the table, after dinner, and hearing the crashing tinkling sound of Tate, in the kitchen, doing the dishes, unasked.  Go, Tate!

And now the packing... oh the packing...

I have a master list, that really saves my bacon.  As I scan through them I realize they need to be updated.  Because, really, I no longer have to bring...
  • a big plastic tub of toys which doubles as a great, kiddy bath-tub
  • the high chair that clips onto the picnic table
  • copious amounts of anti-bacterial wipes
  • bibs
  • everyone's favorite blankies

My Beach House master list has gone from a full, two-column page to about 20  items.

* Happy sigh *

Monday, August 16, 2010

And In Other News...

*  We've had some hot weather.  I know, some of you may mock us, but out here 90F is hot.  Hot, I tell ya! 

*  So the boys and I spent several hours today out at the lake. Oh... I love the lake.  Clear, cool, clean water.  Lots of swimming.  Lots of splashing.  Lots of jumping off the dock.  And the boys had fun, too.

No new pics of that, but you've seen it before.  And - yes - we did see Norbert the Nasty (Toe) Nibbler.  And we're now convinced it's actually Norberta, due to the presence of several little identical fish.  We think she's a mackinaw trout.  And she didn't bite anyone today.  So that's good.

*  Too bad for Kerry, he couldn't go with us, because... he was meeting with clients.  (Doing the happy dance!)  They're hiring him to design a house, which should be about a month's worth of work.  We are thanking the Lord... and praying for more work.

*  Kerry jumped in yesterday afternoon and did the second round of stripping the front of the dresser.  (Woo-hoo!)  And he took a pic.  Just ignore all the disgusting pink goo that someone has dripped onto the cardboard and even onto the garage floor.  Someone is going to have a job to get that up.  (Someone could be me.)

*  We spent all afternoon out at the lake today because - well, it was hot and we were cool - and because I actually got my act together and put dinner in the crock-pot earlier in the day.  I don't know why I don't think of the crock-pot more in the summer.  Cooked food that doesn't heat up the kitchen.  Hurray.

*  But I digress, we got home and no sign of Kerry.  His meeting couldn't have taken that long...  I got him on his cel and he sounded a bit tense.  Told me he was headed back to the job site because he'd lost his "billfold".  (Now there's a word I don't think I've heard since my grandpa died.)  I wasn't freaking out yet, because he's lost his wallet several times before and always found it about the time I'm hyperventilating, but this time he came up dry. 

Okay - I'm telling myself - don't panic, don't panic, we don't even carry credit cards.  But my mind was spinning through what might actually be in his wallet, that we'd have to replace... driver's license, debit card (which means mine too, right before vacation - eek).  And other odds and ends... money (as if), library cards, bank receipts, I have no idea.  He has a big wallet.

So he came home, walked through our bedroom, and started looking around the bathroom, and walked right past this, on his nightstand.

And then said,  It's right here.  My money clip.

Really?  Because normally he carries a big red wallet.

I guess I should've known he meant something different when he said Bill Fold and Money Clip.

I just didn't get that he was being so literal.

But anyway, more reason to give thanks.  Not lost at all.  Just a little odd.

Sauk Mountain... The Actual Hike

Last month Grampa Grasshopper invited Kerry and the boys to come along on a hike... that didn't quite work out.  (Though the boys had a great time anyway!)  The weather being great, they decided to try it again, this time with much better success :D

The nice thing about some hikes is being able to gain a lot of elevation before you start hiking.  Here are Tate and Gunnar at the trail head.  What looks like a boardwalk behind them is probably intended for hang gliders to launch from.

Even so, there was a lot of uphill to go.  This hike isn't long in distance but gains about 1200' in elevation, which means...

... switch-backs.  Lots of switch-backs.

Even with starting early in the morning, things heat up pretty fast.
Time to stop for a drink.
(Check out Gunnar's eyes...)

Lots of nice views along the way.
This is my handsome 14 year old, with Mt. Baker, to the north.

And Uncle Dave.  Also handsome :D, and - I presume - the Skagit River, down below.

Lots to look at, along the way.

Part of the trail had patches of snow, but they were nearing the top.

They apparently saw marmots, but didn't show me any pictures of them.
But here's some wild-life, for you!

The very brave Mr. Tate, at the summit, with Mt. Baker in the background.

And oh-so-cool Gunnar, relaxing after a steep climb.

Grampa Grasshopper, the leader of the expedition :D

And the whole crew.
Well done!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The End of an Era

After lots and lots of floaty fun... 

...and splashing, shrieking, toypedo-ing, vortexing, pool time...

 ... and patching holes and patching more holes and raccoons cavorting on the pool
and patching still more holes...

... it has come to this.

Bye bye, pool.
We're going to the lake tomorrow.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I do love hanging my laundry on the line.

Have I mentioned that?

Why yes, yes I have.

But when the little boybarians decide to film "explosions", which they create by flinging dirt in the air...

... and they stage this activity in Dino-opolis, right next to the clothesline...

I get a little nuts.  

Because I like washing my sheets and hanging them on the line,
 but once a day is enough.

More About Stripping

*  Yes, the boys had a wonderful hike yesterday.  I'll show you when I get pics.  *

*  And, all of you - my IRL friends, and my bloggy friends - thank you for joining me in friendly imperfection.  And for giving me grace.  You guys are not the ones that make me crazy.  *

It's Saturday morning and yesterday's project awaits.

With the enthusiasm of inexperience, I decided to refinish a dresser.  My great-grandma Ruby's dresser.

I didn't take any before pics, but it might look similar to this - if I can get the paint off, except the bottom two drawers have flat fronts.

And, come to think of it, it's missing something - probably a mirror, like this.   In fact, this is more like it, but the other picture shows the sides.

Yep.  It's probably a lot like that, but somebody took the mirror off, leaving a strip of wood missing across the top along the back, which we'll have to fill in.

Very old.  Most likely oak, at least on the outside.  Cool old glass knobs and handles.
 Like the clear handle, bottom right.

And several coats of Very Ugly Paint - pink, light beige, a startling purple, and - on top - a flat, blue-ish gray.  (Why did my grandparents paint everything with flat paint?  I'll never know.)

I found the dresser when we moved in, seven years ago.  My grandpa had it in the garage, full of tools.


And it's been there, ever since.  I even bought stripper, that has also been sitting in the garage for seven years.

Well.  Now you know the truth.

I've begun to learn about stripping, and let me just say this.  Do not be swayed by the product with the nicer-than-your-average-chemical orangey scent.  No.  That stripper says you can leave it on for up to 24 hours.

Don't believe it. 

Do not put the stripper on after dinner and leave it on all night, like you would leave a pot to soak.  Even if the instructions say that will be fine.  It won't.  That will leave you an incredibly sticky chemical-paint-goo that sticks to everything it touches.


Just go to your local hardware store.  We have a great one.  I was going to say it's like a big rabbit warren, but no - it's more like pack rat heaven.  Sensory overload.  You couldn't get a cart through the aisles, which is fine, because I don't think they have any.  But they have everything else.  If you can find it.  Which I can't.  But it doesn't matter, because unlike the big chains, they have people who know how to help you.  At least three different employees offered me help.  Helpful help. 

So now I have this Much Better Stripper which actually works.  In about a minute.  Stellar.  Except by then, not only was my thermometer reading 88F - really! - I was so tired of scraping I only finished the drawers.  I still need to do the actual dresser.  And - surprise! - it must be a stronger chemical than the happy orangey one because in about the time it took me to do each drawer, it began to eat through my surely-non-OSHA-approved flimsy medical rubber gloves, and I only have a couple more in the box.

So I need more energy, more time, and more gloves.  Definitely more gloves.  Asbestos gloves.

And to make a decision.  To paint, or to stain.  See, my house is mostly bright colors (celery green, butter yellow, periwinkle blue) and white trim.  I like that.   So I could repaint the dresser with a creamy, glossy white, and the glass handles would really sparkle.  Or I could strip it all the way down and put some kind of a clear finish on it.  Because natural wood looks warm and inviting, though I'm no lover of oak.  I probably should strip it all the way down, just so I can see how that would look.  Even though I may end up painting it anyway.   Aarrrrgh.  Decisions!

But this project will not take seven more years.  I promise.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Keeping It Real (or, Stripping and The Sky Is Falling)

You know how there are people that are just a wee bit too perfect?  The glossy people?

There are blogs like that too, right?  The perfect people with the perfect blogs... they always serve healthy meals with home-made bread and salad they grew themselves, their kids are prodigies in academics, music, and sport, their marriages are always delightful, they're mothers-of-many and still slim and youthful looking, the photos on the blog are always professional quality, and - yes - they could write about dirt and make it interesting.  And they never write about anything that went wrong, until it's all good again and they've wrenched a lesson from it they want to share with you.


But other bloggers, while they have a lot going for them, manage not to be so stinkin' perfect. Their kids are average - and they admit it. Or, their husband sometimes irritates them and they own up to it (without running him down). They forgot to defrost the meat, so their three boys got macaroni and cheese and hot-dog-octopi (otherwise known at this house as American Sushi) for dinner. Or, you know... they have hedge-hog hair.

I like those people.  They're my kind of people.

So, in the interest of keeping it real... this is what's been happening around our house lately.

*  After my revelation from the boys' shower, I went to clean ours.  Because, there's a problem.  I can't see.  I wear contacts, which is great, but I usually shower first, and then put in my 'eyes'.  Which means that the shower can get kind of... um...  funky... before I notice it.  So I cleaned the sides and sliding doors, then squirted cleaner on the floor and left it to ferment soak.  Came back that evening and it was practically sparkling.  I was all excited to think I'd found a miracle product that did all the work for me!  Turns out Kerry scrubbed it.  I should be really thankful he went to the unprecedented effort, but I'm still thinking, Dang!  I thought I'd found IT!

*  Meanwhile, the boys are busying themselves eking all the fun out of summer they possibly can, which involves reading a lot of Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County, staging wars in Dino-opolis, and bickering about who held the rabbit the longest.

*  We had "Astronomy Night" last night, and spent about two hours last night up on Grampa and Gramma's deck watching the crescent moon sink down behind the islands in a so-beautiful-it-looks-fake red sky, looking at planets through the telescope, laughing at Uncle Dave for naming a new 3-star Y-shaped constellation The Flux Capacitor, and counting satellites and shooting stars.  And bats.  Lots and lots of bats.  (And - yes - I know they're not really shooting stars.  They're meteors.  The Perseids, to be precise, but shooting stars sounds better.  You know, like the sky is falling.)

*  But we couldn't stay too late (oops, we did) because Grampa invited the boys on a hike today - to complete the hike they attempted a couple weeks ago.  Which left me with an unexpected kid-free day... or most of a day.  Though there were plenty of things I probably should could have done, I thought it would be a great idea to tackle an item that's had permanent status on my Mother Load for about seven years.  (I wasn't kidding about the geologic ages!)

*  I bit off way more than I could chew (at least, today) on this project.  Let's just say it involves an antique dresser, several layers of Very Ugly Paint, and chemicals.  Lots of chemicals.

And what I have to show for all that is
 - four drawers that are mostly stripped of paint, but not sanded.
 - two ancient sanders, neither of which appear to work properly.
 - an only partially stripped dresser.
 - a temporary inability to smell much of anything.
 - and an aching back.

So there you have it.

Elbert Hubbard wrote, Complete success alienates a man from his fellows, but suffering makes kinsmen of us all.

Your kinsman,


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brain Dump / Leak?

*  The boys are back from Camp Tami and already I'm in a whirl of Civil War chatter, Podger hopping around the living room (take that bunny outside!), I'm-starving-and-I-want-another-sandwich, let-me-tell-you-all-the-lines-I-remember-from-every-movie-we-watched, and Mom-I-want-to-look-at-Nerf-guns-online-right-now (because he wants one for Christmas, so clearly this is urgent.)

*  I got approximately 1/5 of the items crossed off the Mother Load list, so... you know... about par for the course, since some items seem to have been on my list for geologic ages.

*  Since I mentioned Catalog Living recently, and some of you enjoyed it, I thought I'd give you another tip.  My friend Cutzi sent me over to Unhappy Hipsters, a hilarious Dwell-ish angst-fest.  The bizarre thing is, as I lazed away some of my quiet moments while the boys were gone looking through a few - ahem - of their older posts, I could swear I found someone I actually know!  My brother says it's not who I think it is, but I'm not convinced.

photo from Unhappy Hipsters - I tried to link it, above, but the link to the post wouldn't work reliably

*  After discussing the swimming pool with the boys, and getting their consent to list it on craigslist, it was apparently attacked by a pair of hyperactive raccoons in the night, and is lying limply on the yard, awaiting a verdict on whether the damage is patch-able or terminal.

*  And, in spite of being fairly close to the border, the closest we got to the Winter Olympics was my parents' big screen TV.  A few of our friends headed up to the Great White North to take in events or just the general atmosphere, and I've jealously  peeked at all their pictures.  But a couple really caught my eye...

You see, you've gotta understand that living close to the border, we really like our cheesehead Canadian neighbors, but we also love to tease them... about the way they talk - eh, and the way they do things.

Even so, you'd think somebody would've noticed that their window sign...

... really wasn't working as intended from all angles.

Many thanks to Monica Solorio-Snow, who let me use her pictures.
She quilts and blogs at The Happy Zombie, one of the funniest quilting blogs I know!  Not only are her quilts amazing, but she's revealed the secret of The Oregon Button for digital photography.  I'm no expert, but I think it will work in Washington, too.

*  So, the boys are waiting for me to come read some more James Herriot to them, and I have to tell you, since they got home around 5pm, I think I've gotten a hug about every ten minutes from Gunnar.  I know they had a great time, but it's sweet to be missed :D

Just To Be Fair...

Oh you guys all crack me up.  Yes, the view out the window (in the post below) is nice, isn't it?

I almost feel like it's false advertising to put up beautiful pictures of our area.

Yes, it's gorgeous here.  Mountains, flowers, water, green, trees...  Yup.

When you can see them.

But you need to realize something.  It rains here about 9 months out of the year.

I am not joking.

So we go a little nuts when the weather is good.  Because usually it's more like this... 

 This is the view out the boys' bedroom window.  You should be seeing another couple layers of hills around the lake, but they're covered by the low clouds.  And the blurriness?  Not my fault (this time), it's the rain streaming down the window.  (Last fall.)

And here you see the parking lot where one of the boys has soccer practice.
And - yes - they practice when it's like this.
And I've sat through games in even worse weather.

So don't be too jealous, okay?!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting Ready

I love having a room dedicated to schooling.  Not that we're trapped in there - far from it - but it does help contain the mess projects and work-in-process.  And for my boys, I think it helps them focus.  Especially since Daddy Grasshopper works out of the home and tends to enter the house talking.  (On the phone, to us, to himself... I'm just sayin', it's a wee bit distracting at times.)

So we've carved out a sanctuary upstairs.  (Most of the pics are from this spring.)

We picked up this table and chairs from Craigslist, and it just fits the four of us fine.
The boys' bedroom is right across the hall and Wyatt often takes his work over there if he wants less distraction.  Tate can just turn his HA off if I'm working with one of his brothers :D

Most of our science supplies are in that colorful storage unit.

I only keep the books that we're likely to use frequently in the school room.  The rest of our 'library' is down in the family room.  Let's face it.  When you have a 108 year old house, you think twice about keeping a lot of books upstairs.

Since our school room is really a bedroom, we have a nice big closet for more of our stuff.

And since I finally got around to organizing it this summer, it's much more useful.
Imagine that.
The three blue tubs have each boy's daily work, and below them are arts and crafts supplies, and more science supplies.  Math books awaiting handing down are below, and the drawers hold over-size paper, maps, and records.

And out the window...

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